NEW YORK – The New York theater industry is bracing for the impact of Hurricane Sandy, with all Broadway performances for Sunday and Monday nights canceled.
Disney Theatricals was among the first of the major producers to announce cancellations, scratching Sunday evening performances of The Lion King and Mary Poppins, as well as Newsies on Monday night.
The Shubert Organization also contacted managers of its Broadway houses with orders to close on Sunday and Monday nights, nixing scheduled performances of shows such as the long-running hits Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera.
Soon after, the Broadway League, which represents all Great White Way theaters, issued a statement detailing blanket cancellation of all shows on Sunday and Monday nights.
“The safety and security of theatergoers and employees is everyone’s primary concern,” said Broadway League executive director Charlotte St. Martin. “As a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, evening performances will be canceled tonight, Sunday, October 28th, and Monday evening, October 29th.”
With the citywide transport shutdown scheduled to begin at 7pm Eastern and remain in place until 12 hours after the storm passes, more entertainment events beyond Broadway are expected to be casualties. That means ticket outlets will be jammed with refund and date-change requests in the coming days.
The majority of Broadway theaters normally remain dark on Monday and have no Sunday evening show, which means the financial impact on the sector will be relatively contained. Only a handful of shows have regular Monday performances, among them Evita, Rock of Ages and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. All Sunday matinees are going ahead as scheduled.
When Broadway was shut down in August 2011 due to Hurricane Irene (later downgraded to a tropical storm), that occurred over a weekend, causing cancellation of the week’s prime moneymaking performances and larger revenue losses than the current disruption is likely to create.
Off Broadway, where Sunday and Monday evening shows are more common, the toll stands to be heavier.
The Sunday evening performance of Lincoln Center Theater’s well-reviewed play Disgraced, starring The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi, was among the first to be canceled. Sunday and Monday shows also were nixed at 54 Below, the popular new cabaret annex at Studio 54. Some 20 Off Broadway productions have since announced cancellations, while concert events across the city have been postponed.
Off Broadway League president George Forbes released the following statement:
“Any updates or cancellations will be posted on the Off Broadway League's website, www.offbroadway.com, as they become available. For questions about exchange or refund policies, patrons should contact their point of purchase.”
Given that weather conditions are expected to have greatly improved by early Tuesday evening, it remains unclear to what extent theater schedules will be disrupted after Monday. So far, only one Off Broadway production, A Summer Day with Karen Allen, has confirmed plans to cancel its Tuesday show.
Beyond the theater district, signs of the approaching storm are evident across the city. Evacuation orders have been issued for low-lying areas, and massive lines are clogging supermarkets as New Yorkers stock up on emergency supplies in case of power outages.